Student Experiences: Awa

Awa in Amsterdam
Photo: Awa visiting Amsterdam during school break travel

Why did you want to study abroad, and where did you choose to go? 
I chose to study abroad in Brno, Czech Republic because I wanted new scenery. I've never been content being in the same place for too long. I tend to fall into a routine and life becomes predictable and I knew that by studying abroad everyday would be a mystery. I also wanted to study abroad because I knew there was something I could learn about the country, as well as myself, that I wouldn't know had I stayed in America.

Awa in Paris
Photo: Awa was able to spend a lot of time in Paris, France at the end of her semester. 

Describe your campus and what student life was like. 
At Masaryk University, the city of Brno is your campus. All the faculties were spread throughout the city so everyday was a trip from your room to your class. This allowed me to see more of Brno as well as get my daily dose of Starbucks. Alongside that, the student life is amazing. In Brno, students make up a good portion of the city and everyday there was something to do. At the school there was a club called the ESN club which was big on catering to international students. They had a calendar for the semester and everyday there was something to do. From rock climbing to bar crawls there was never a dull day.

Was there a language barrier? And if so, how were you able to get through it?
In the Czech republic, Czech is the official language, but for the most part everyone spoke English. However, if English isn't spoken, they were able to find ways to assist you through pictures or finding someone who spoke both languages. 

Awa 1
Photo: Here is Awa in the town where she studied abroad- Brno, Czech Republic

What did you find most challenging throughout your experience? 
In the Czech Republic, seeing someone who is Black is very rare. I always had to keep in mind that this was new for Czech natives as well as myself whenever they would stare at me. In the beginning it annoyed me because I thought they were staring at me to be impolite, but a faculty member told me that for most of the older people this is their first time seeing a Black person especially a Black woman. As the semester progressed I did begin to accept the stares, but some days I still felt a type of way. 

Overall, how was your experience? And do you have any tips for future students who may be interested in traveling to the same place as you? 
Overall, my experience was unbelievable. I was able to visit eight other European countries as well as meet so many of my family members who I’ve never met before. In the Czech Republic I felt free to truly be myself without any judgement. I was able to learn so much about who I am as well as who the Czech people were. I met so many people and I’ve made friendships that will last forever. For those who are interested in going to the Czech Republic my overall tip is to be comfortable being uncomfortable. This experience is not for you to be comfortable throughout the whole thing; you are going to face small challenges along the way and that shouldn't stop you from having an amazing time. Brno has so much to offer and I can't wait for you all to see it.

Awa in Fall
Photo: Enjoying the fall semester abroad.